It was the happiest of days. Had I realized it at the time, I would have savored every moment and filled a jar of memories for the years I am living now.  It is not uncommon for someone in their elder years to compare today’s surroundings with those in their childhood years. For some reason, schools always come to the fore when I start placing A next to B.

The smell of the well oiled floors greeted us each fall and a certain excitement filled the air. Who would be our teacher? Would there be any new kids?  I cannot remember any problem with bullying. Most of the kids were in the same financial category. Most parents worked in the mill across the road from the school. There were no designer jeans and fancy clothes.

To most of us, the opportunity of having swings and teeter boards to use during recess was something we looked forward to each day.

I had a love/hate relationship with school. From the very first day, I was bored with Dick and Jane and Spot and the teacher, Miriam McAllister sensed it. She soon had me trying different arithmetic problems to keep my mind off the paper cutter at the rear of the room which seemed to attract me for some reason.

There is one memory and I have no idea why it sticks in my  mind so vividly to this day. I was in the first grade and Mrs. McAllister was having us read or was reading  to us about some Chinese people and drinking tea and where that originated etc. Suddenly, a feeling of revulsion came over me and I thought”Those are very bad people.” Never before nor since have I ever had that thought or felt that way. I remember shuddering and wishing we could go on to another story.

I am placing my sanity in your hands when I go on with this tale. Years later, on a lark, I accompanied others to a reading by either a medium, psychic, or whomever and she asked if I believed in reincarnation. At the time, it was not a subject I readily thought about, so gave a half hearted shrug. She looked at me and  said, “In a former life you lived in Mongolia. You sold jewelry and you were shot in the street. You were not involved , just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  It was then the feeling in the first grade leaped into my mind. Well, it is anyone’s guess but I thought it strange that I should remember a feeling I experienced when I was six years old…

Lunch time meant , in good weather, sitting on the school grounds, opening our brown paper bags and examining what was within. What we found , we shared with the village dog, Sandy, who knew exactly what time to visit. My brothers and I usually had biscuits with peanut butter and/or jelly and perhaps a cookie or a cracker with peanut butter. Anything to fill the hole, as Ma used to say. We ate it and were happy.

Our music department consisted of a lady coming in on a Friday morning, pounding the piano while the entire school assembled in the “big” room and sang along. There was no gym and Phys Ed, but a whole school yard where we became hooligans during noon hour and recess.

There was no school nurse. Teachers kept bandaids and the basics in their desk drawers for small emergencies.  A doctor came at least once a  year to administer shots. I remember a small pox vaccination which was not a favorite day in my memory bank.

We collected dimes for the March of Dimes; picked milkweed for the service men so they would have parachutes they needed. It was the time of World War 2 and everyone knew someone who was overseas.

In the photo below you see the entire third, fourth and fifth grades assembled on the school steps to commemorate a really fun day…as you can see, the Clown came to entertain us. I cannot remember one thing he did, but it broke the monotony of another school day. Mrs. Ruth Ring stands in back of all her hooligans …imagine being responsible for three grades at one time!!

I loved some of my teachers and those I didn’t love, I learned to respect because I was deathly afraid of them…which was good because my sense of humor was always getting me in trouble. Frances Gunther and Olive Lurvey put the fear of God in me and I learned more from them than I can express.  Ruth Ring was a softie but such a patient teacher…look at what she had to work with at the time! I dearly loved Gale Webber, our seventh grade teacher, because it was beyond my imagination that a man would be a teacher. I have no clue why I felt that way. Sorry to say he left after that one year, and we had another , a Mr. Guy Meserve, who boarded with the Norwood Fords on Bird Hill for the school year. I will not even go into the details of my final year at the little school house. Suffice it to say, Mr. Meserve’s favorite expression was “You’re not putting me through a knot hole and putting the plug in after me.”  That was not directed completely at me, but at the room in general.

The little school house, in comparison with today’s schools and expectations was sadly lacking in so much, but on the other hand offered so much that is not seen in the present day.

Summing it up, we were just a bunch of happy kids.IMG_1960



The Old Town Hall

I can’t remember when that big white building did not hold a sacred place in the village of Locke Mills, Maine. I am sure the historians can tell me the exact date it was erected, but the memories take me back probably seventy years.

Excitement reigned supreme when a “cowboy” show was coming to town. Our neighbors, Grace and Charlie Day took me to many. The big red curtain hung and I could feel my heart pounding, just waiting for Ken MacKenzie to appear. There he stood, bigger than life, just like I heard him on the radio. Soon he would introduce “Simone the Missus” and his beautiful wife appeared and sang. It was pure magic.

Oh, goodness there was the Lone Pine Mountaineer. Remember his song, “Come on and listen and I’ll sing and play for you, I am the Lone Pine Mountaineer…” One of his guests who stood on that stage in that tiny town was Hawkshaw Hawkins, who later died in a plane crash along with Patsy Cline. I remember paying a few coins for his 8 by 10 glossy and thinking he was the most handsome man ever! The queen of the stage along with Hal “Lone Pine” was his wife, Betty Cody. How she yodeled!! At the young age of 9 or 10, I never dreamed that one day I would interview Betty Cody and her singing would go on and on for years. She was a lovely person, but I digress. Somehow music takes over my thoughts.

The town hall welcomed me and the rest of the eighth grade when we graduated in the spring of 1951. The two girls, Kay Dorey and I were decked out in white dresses and shoes. I admit those white shoes were a far cry from my battered old sneakers which I preferred! The boys twitched and pulled at their dress clothes as we marched down the aisle.

Through the years I strolled across the stage with other local ladies as we performed musical numbers. The audiences were wonderful and appreciative. I remember one number where we twirled umbrellas and did quite a bit of choreography to “Carolina in the Morning..” Oh to have another evening like that!!

As the years went by, there were ballroom dancing lessons held…not for long that I can remember. I had just married, but participated without the new husband. He had no desire to learn the cha-cha and I loved dancing and a challenge. I was no huge success in the dance field, but manage to find a partner who tolerated my moves.

Oh, if those walls could only talk. I stood in line to sign up for unemployment insurance for the first time. I was a nervous wreck but believe it was Johnny Newell who was handling the whole thing and that made me feel a bit better.

I attended my first labor union meeting there, trying to understand the whole procedure so I could hold an intelligent conversation with Dad, who was a strong Union man and was on negotiating committees.

When the four children were small, they dressed in buckskin costumes my Dad bought out West for Halloween and there we were again, marching in a circle to see who would win a prize.  They didn’t, but it was another gathering at the magnificent building.

Years later, I was on stage again singing with a pick-up band for a fund raiser. That is one thing small towns are known for…caring for each other. There was dancing and the money came in for the cause.

At the same time, I was Secretary for the Town and occupied a small room on the first floor for anyone who needed answers. I got few requests and did a lot of paper work. Not my favorite job at the time.

The last time I was at the Town Hall was the early eighties. My son, Alan and I had a little thing going at the time. Music again! We played at different venues and when we were asked about entertaining for a good cause back in our home town, we thought, “Why not?” It was with great memories that we stepped out on the stage that night and looked down into a sea of faces, some so familiar and some not so familiar. We sang three songs and for the final time I left the stage that held so many memories.

The building must be getting weary now. It has stood for so many years with so many memories. It is the landmark for which I look every time I go back to my home town and as we pass, I smile. I hope it can stand for many more years.

That town hall is a treasure.

Remembering Dad

His given name was Beryl and he hated it. The hatred intensified the day he received , in the mail, an invitation to participate in a beauty shop program. I was about ten years old when I noticed that he was writing “Bob” Martin in the corner of his favorite books to declare ownership. So most of his friends referred to him as Bob and my mother, when she found herself at the end of her rope, called him his full name, Beryl Aubrey Martin.

Let me set this story straight. We were definitely not the Cleaver family. It was as though one day my father looked around, noticed his four children and wondered when it all happened. His idea of “bonding” was not playing toss in the front yard, but slapping an alder in one of his kids’ hands and taking him fishing on the shore of Twitchell Pond. As we grew older, we were allowed to go fishing with him in Uncle Louis’s row boat.

If there are two things my Dad gave me, it had to be my love of reading and a sense of humor. Dad was a voracious reader and dwelled in the land of the Old West. His favorite author was Zane Grey and as he read, he would relate stories of Betty Zane and Lew Wetzel to us until they became actual people still living that very day. He had stacks of detective magazines and dime novels.

After working in the mill, his favorite time of day was to retire early to bed and read a paperback by the kerosene lamp by his bed. However, he also wanted to smoke at the same time though my mother had cautioned him time and again that he would set the house on fire. He remained calm and serene and continued the practice until one night a spark dropped and the mattress started smoking. My mother, who was still in the kitchen, heard a yell and ran . Thankfully, the lights were out at my grandparents’ farm as the two of them dragged the mattress through the house and out on the lawn. The smoldering was a tiny place but produced enough smoke that it stopped Dad from ever smoking in bed again.

He loved to tempt fate by sometimes getting up from his early reading and stroll to the kitchen for a bowl of crackers and milk to ease his ulcer pain. ..and usually just in his underwear. Again, my mother went into her caution mode and told him that some day someone would come and catch him there. Never would happen, he replied. Well, one night, in the middle of his snack, car lights appeared. The front door was between him and the bedroom. The picture of my father crouching and crawling past the door to get to his trousers was not pretty, but it was the last time he ate without his pants.

He was known for his story telling and if you believed everything he said while he tapped his toes, then you were your own fool. One man became so agitated at a tale my father was spinning, that he bit Dad’s ear…right in the mill yard with a passenger train going by at the time. 

I wrote a story once about my Dad called “Living with a Whirlwind” which was published in a Maine magazine. There was plenty of material: his eating half a napkin with a hot dog in the dark and complaining about how dry the hot dog was; shooting bats in the attic in broad daylight. It never ended.

My father went to school as far as the eighth grade. Any education , after that, was through his years of reading. He took a test and became one of the first to repair televisions with all their tubes when they were introduced. He probably was one of the most educated men I ever knew, but chose to live and be happy in the outdoors. He loved nature, fishing, hunting and just sitting in his wooden chair at his Indian Pond camp.

His left hand crippled in a saw mill accident, he gave up playing the guitar the regular way but fixed it so he could lay it on his lap and play with a bar. His humor got him through the rough times.

Dad was a no nonsense person when it came to his children. As the years went by, he mellowed and a softer side emerged. He loved his grandchildren, especially the little girls that he bought purses and hats for to wear at Easter.

We lost Dad when he was 53 years old in 1966. Some times it seems like yesterday; other times it seems forever ago. The memories will always remain. Thanks, Dad, for the sense of humor…it has helped me more than you know.

Happy Birthday this March 8th!


(S)now Kidding

DadI have a like/hate relationship with snow. If I can just look out at the trees, laden with fresh new snow, as most poets do and commence to write, that is fine. I just don’t like having a shovel in my hand or feel the snow crawl down my boots, melting merrily along the way.

As you can see in the photo of my Dad, Beryl A. Martin, ( hater of all winters), he is not smiling cheerfully. I took this photo with a Brownie camera when I was ten years old and he actually posed for me. In the distance you can see Rowe’s Ledge and frozen Twitchell Pond and one of my grandfather’s very cold apple trees.

The burlap bag was filled with “blocks” from the mill where my parents worked and were used for kindling in the early hours of building the fire in the old wood stove to start another day. The Speed-Away sled was perfect for the hauling and one can barely see the little path behind Dad that was used throughout the winter. Kids feet beating it down as we rushed for the school bus and my parents as they used the flashlight to wind their way to the road in the darkness to get to work at the mill. This was way before little snow plows were available to clean out your  yard. Later on in life, Dad took full advantage of that as did my Mum. What a luxury to drive right to the house in the middle of January!

Oh the excitement to see the Greenwood road commisioner in his big truck as he passed by after a big storm. Roy Millett was the man during these storms and we appreciated him. The rumble of the truck would be heard before it came in sight and we’d rush to the window and announce, “the road has been plowed!”

The wind swept down South Pond and there were always gigantic drifts near the “old Joe Cummings place” as Dad referred to it. There were times when men were hired to shovel through the drifts as the plow could not budge the hardened mass of snow. I remember my Dad as one who went off with his shovel to assist in the drift openings.

I hated winter because I did not and do not like being cold. But for some reason, if there was a clear star filled, moonlight night I was on my Speed-Away sled pushing off with gusto and slamming down on my stomach and racing down my grandmother’s pasture hill. Then the haul up the hill and back down again until Ma appeared at the door and yelled it was bed time.

Boots came off , snow crusted mittens were put on the side of the stove to melt and ..let’s face it..just plain stink. Smell is too mild a word. Wet  mittens on a wood stove stink , but perfect for drying to be used in the morning for school. Faces still stinging from the sliding, we went to bed without protest and slept soundly for all the fresh air, I am thinking.

I hated snowball fights because I always lost and got snow down the neck and in the face. Strange I don’t remember making a snowman, but I must have. Forts were the big thing and my brother and I gouged at a bank until we (1) had a hole (2) looked at each other and decided to do something less tiring.

I have few scars from winter as compared to my summer wounds. I did have one huge accident, but it occurred in my senior year of high school. I thought I should attend the winter carnival and participate since I had the good fortune of being Queen of the ball that  night. Looking over the activities, snowshoeing was about the only thing I could qualify for and that was something I’d seen Dad do …my only experience. After pleading for permission to use his snowshoes and promises not to destroy them, he allowed me to use them for the snowshoe race.

I have no clue how I even knew how to strap them on my feet. I noticed my one opponent had ‘bear paw’ snowshoes. NO  TAILS and those on my feet were at least a mile long. Well, Dad said if you used “bear paws” you weren’t a true snowshoer. You were wrong, Dad. My opponent took off like the wind and w hile watching her do so, the tails crossed on my snowshoes and I went face first into…..crust. My face was a mass of tiny little smarting cuts…too numerous to count. Vanity had nothing to do with this. Pain had everything to do with it. Jeannie Mills, living close by on her farm, insisted I come into her kitchen and she applied something soft on the cuts to make it less painful.

I don’t know which was worse, the pain on my face or the loss of my dignity as I was sprawled out on the snow. I DID get up by myself..I think. I am sure that I returned the snowshoes, intact, to Dad and told him that bear paw snowshoes worked just fine for some people.

—and no, I have never snowshoed again. For all you snow enthusiasts, I am happy for you, but allow me to remain free of all cold activities that involve moving faster than a slow mincing walk. And now you know the like/hate relationship I have with snow.

What is it about February?

The sun is higher in the sky and feels warmer on the skin as we look out over snow drifts. Dad always said that and I thought he was just trying to make me feel better about winter, but then years later a weatherman said the same on a local broadcast, so maybe Dad was way ahead of times.

January is a loathsome month, thrown on the calendar to absorb all the feelings , hurt and otherwise, from the holidays and merry making. I have no idea what to do with that month because , to me, skiing and snowshoeing are something I cannot do any more and probably would balk if someone strapped either to my feet.

But then comes February with its beautiful colors of Valentine’s Day. Just the colors in the store makes a person feel as though there may be life after all under the skirt of white outside.

How well I remember February in Greenwood Center! It was the month of my birthday…a day that every kid feels is his own. You went to school and just knew that everyone there knew you were special that whole day..whether they knew it or just felt it. We didn’t have any big celebrations at the little Martin household. Ma might have baked a cake if the oven “behaved” and slapped some frosting on it. I can’t remember blowing out candles but I must have somewhere through the years. I do remember a couple of gifts given me. Dad was definitely not a gift shopper or giver. However , one year he went to Brown’s Variety in Bethel and presented me with a book of fairy tales. I was probably ten years old at the time and he knew very well I was reading his detective magazines on the sly and maybe trying to tone down my selection of reading a bit. I still have the book.

The other gift is strange to remember. It was a pair of green slacks and a plaid girls flannel shirt to match. I wore it to school so proudly because prior to that, I had worn my brothers’ clothes…not that any of the kids cared or bullied.

We can’t forget the Valentine Box at school. That box so covered with crepe paper it could take off on its own and leave a vapor trail. How exciting to sit and gather the cards …and then take them home and go over them one by one..and especially the rare one with a lolipop glued to it. I wonder if that is still done in the little schools..or are there any little schools left?

The best part of February( besides my birthday) was knowing that spring training was going to start soon for the Red Sox. Now mind you, all we had was the old big Philco standing in the corner, but when spring training started and a few games broadcast, my brother and I were there listening. I haven’t changed…

I loved the local baseball games and after February, well soon the snow would go, the mud dry up and Sunday afternoons were baseball time. I remember Ma taking me to a ball game in Bryant Pond one of those afternoons. Somewhere, about the seventh inning, I had a terrible headache. Well, I lasted til we got to the car and she gave me probably an aspirin. Without her knowledge I grabbed an open bottle of coke and took that pill. I do not have to tell you that by the time we got to Locke Mills village I was urging her to step on the gas. To this day, I remember the terrific relief as we pulled in our door yard, I opened the door and let nature take its course. The headache was gone.

For some reason, February gives me hope that winter is not going to last forever. As soon as I settle into this little comfort nest, a blizzard blows in about the third week of March…but that’s ok. Baseball season will start soon.

–and those are my views on February …



You Will Find It

Strength is a hard word to define.  Picture me as a young girl, with boundless energy, sitting on a plank looking at the scene in the picture. Yup, that is where I spent a lot of my “Extra time”. I was a dreamer. I know that now, but knew no word to describe it at that age. I loved everything in nature from the fish circling over her bed, tail fanning in the sunlight to feeling the bark on a tree. How smooth the white birch as compared to the darker rough trees.  One must never peel the white birch bark from the tree and how lucky we felt to find a piece on the ground on which to write or sketch!

But this Sunday morning I was going to write about strength. What is it to a young girl? I thought and walked miles back in the caverns of my mind and could barely come out with anything that matched that word. Strength was not screaming when my mother forced boiled poplar bark down my throat to ward off “worms” and when she found I lacked bravery in that department, bought some huge purple pills only a Clydesdale could swallow….and the purple dripped down both corners of my mouth on to my clothes . She yelled; I sniffed and sobbed and eventually the pills ended up in the old back iron sink. No worms surfaced that me or the sink.

No strength there. Fast forward . Married at 17; new mother at 19. Was it strength that had me walking in snow to my hips from Johnny’s Crossing to the farm at the top of the mountain. I worked at Penley’s in West Paris during the day and should there be a storm, well as Dad said, “you gotta use Shank’s mare to get home.” I can’t tell you how many wading sessions I had, but I didn’t consider it strength; it was necessity. I didn’t relish spending the night in a snowbank.

Then there was 18 years later; another upheaval in my life. The little girl from Greenwood Center had long gone and a much more mature women had taken over her place. Oh, there were times when that little girl wanted to go into a corner and wrap herself into a blanket and not come out for a few days but it was okay;  a divorce was necessary; this in her mind was not strength ,but survival. Let me add a sentence of advice which I try never to do and don’t think I have.From pure experience, never judge a situation unless you have every fact you can possibly have and then, even, it is better to let someone higher than you do the judging.

We will take a big leap now. The little girl from Greenwood has been married again and this time for 41 years. She has worked and loved every job she has had . Her four children are scattered like leaves on a windy October day. Her husband, not feeling well for some time, sees a doctor and after months, the news is not good. There will be no recovery. Her youngest son will share the duties of caregivers and they will make him as comfortable as possible. Her mind argues with itself every night; how can she do this? She cannot watch him waste  away; this man with whom she has shared so much. Is there a choice? The doctors say no.

Every day, climb out of bed, take a deep breath and reach as far back into your body and soul as you can…she kept telling herself, knowing her son was doing the same. They shared the 24 hour duty, day in and day out.

It was becoming harder; she kept reaching and sometimes would walk into an empty room, shed a few tears, turn around and get back to business. That is what her mother and father would do, she kept telling herself. And then one day late August it happened. Her young son finished a nine mile run , smiled, waved and fell flat on his back with a massive heart attack. The husband, unable to do anything but watch , was distraught. The young girl screamed his name and with no response, called his friend next door and then 911. What a beautiful sound…those sirens were like angels’ harps on the winds. The girl’s son died three times and was brought back three times as he was rushed to the hospital.

The girl sat down in a chair next to her husband. She had no one. Her daughter was in another state ( who came within two days) and her other two sons had lives of their own. This was so far away from the hot roads of summer in Greenwood Center with her Gram, her aunts, her family. For the first time in her life, she had no one…absolutely  no one. It is a feeling so empty and raw you feel as though you are floating and having no idea where you are going.She spent the next 24 hours taking word from the hospital and taking care of her husband’s needs. Neighbors come in with food and anything else she might need; she thanks them and hopes it is adequate.  Two men volunteer to sit with my husband so she can get a few hours sleep. She is not alone; yet the feeling is there.

I can look back now. My husband is gone. He left us on October 25th. My son is recovering nicely. I have no idea where I got the strength to keep going all those many months. I like to believe we all have a reserve of strength and when it is needed we have our own special Angel to turn the tap and God regulates the flow. I don’t know. It was there when I needed it.

Now there is another hurdle,b ut I am ready. As I lay having an echocardiogram last week, my mind went to Rowe’s ledge, the hawks screeching, the blue waves with white diamonds bouncing from them. I felt the tar under my August feet as we raced up and down the road. So my heart has a few is operating at about half what it should but I have an excellent cardiologist who is working wonders. I know there is more strength in that reservoir.

There will always come the time when each of us is tested…early in life; late in life. Remember you, too, have a reservoir. Time for my angel to turn the tap! Let’s go!


“And so this is Christmas”

carThis is it. My Dad’s 1938 Chevrolet that he parked by the road every winter before the days of snowplows and more than one shovel per household…apparently. I look at it and see the cottage behind and it was then owned by a Mr. Kenyan..or Kenyon..who knows. Dad called him “Kato”..Dad had a name for everything and everyone.

“And so this is Christmas”…John Lennon’s lyrics to one of my favorite songs. It is Christmas and I am alone. Sam, the tuxedo cat, is resting his head on one of my feet, daring me to go near the feedbag without his knowledge.

You can’t be alone on Christmas, people wail. You can and chances are sometime during your life time, you will be. My first experience was in 1974 when I had a branch from some evergreen stuck in a vase on a windowsill….over the laundromat in Locke Mills, Maine. Circumstances put me there. My children had always gone to their paternal grandparents for Christmas dinner and gifts and I was not breaking the tradition. Never mind their son and I had divorced months earlier; they were good folks.

Today circumstances have put me in a different position. I had an hour with my son and his lady this morning and they are off to see her mother in another state who is not well and waiting for them. They will be back tomorrow and old Sam and I will still be doing our thing…sitting, thinking, writing and eating..mostly the latter, I am afraid!

You are never alone when you have memories. My middle son, Gary, loves to tell the story how I managed to put the tree in the farm by myself one year , losing every needle en route to the blessed corner. I smile. The clock was striking 1 a.m. one year when I cursed the fact I was ever dumb enough to purchase a metal gas station or was that a metal farm. It WAS metal. TAB A into Slot B . They were thrilled the next morning and did not notice I had taken out stock in Johnson and Johnson bandaids as my hands were cut, nicked and not ready for photographs.

Grace and Charlie Day, our neighbors one ( then one now two) houses south of where we lived, always managed some little gift for me. I’d run up the stairs to my side of the attic and tear open the package. At that time, manicure sets were very popular amongst young girls and hair brushes and the like. I remember feeling very grown up at the time.

The strangest gift I ever saw and this includes every long year of my life was one purchased by my father. They sat at either end of the kitchen table, with the rest of us scattered here and there. She opened the large box with anticipation, probably hoping for once to realize a dream, and there laid a pair of black and white cowgirl boots. She picked them up, looked at them and very carefully laid them back in the box and put them on the table without a word.  I have no idea why he bought them…he never needed a reason. She liked western music but didn’t yodel or ever grace a stage. We stood there thunderstruck and never did get an answer.

When my oldest son, Brian, was two he was given a Handy Andy Tool Kit. He proudly walked around for days swinging it by the handle. I think he was sizing up the job and how much to charge because a few days later he was busily trying to saw down the Christmas tree. Later in life, he became a master carpenter. Go figure.

Somewhere I have a photo of Alan holding his Tom Thumb typewriter, for which he had asked for months. Nothing else…just that typewriter and he used it over and over and kept it carefully in its bright red plastic case. I believe it had a wheel and you had to choose the letter one wanted.

Debbie was happy , as was Gary, with most anything that could move or engage in battles. Gary loved G.I. Joe and Debbie had a Barbie. Back then, the custon in our household was to choose one gift which we considered expensive and then the rest could be little this and thats to go with it or whatever. Everything was so appreciated and that trait has stayed with my children as they grew to adulthood.

I was never good at buying adult gifts. The childrens’ father would open one corner of a gift to see what it was and drop it to the floor by his chair. Oh, I have seen a lot of men do the same! Well one year, I knew he wanted something and I saved, saved and saved. I wrapped, wrapped and wrapped some more. In the 18 years I lived on that farm, I do not think I ever saw a more pleased expression than when he ripped the paper off and discovered he had a stainless steel milk pail. He loved that thing and he probably used it as long as he had cows or goats. In fact, he consented to mixing up some sort of mixed drink one New Years Eve and using it as a center piece for a little gathering and the only gathering we had at the farm. I was a success at last!!

So yes this is Christmas. My soul mate of 41 years left me a couple months ago, but he would want me sitting here, writing, remembering and passing on stories.  I would like to think he is on my shoulder reading this, and if so, he will remember the time we counted our Christmas money and having only enough for gas for my little VW to travel to Maine to see the kids who wanted to finish high school there with their friends. There is no such thing as a heater in a VW bug so I wrapped a blanket around my feet and we traveled the 5.5 hours alternating between shivering and hoping the wind wouldn’t blow us over.

Good times. Good memories.